Subscribe: Wounded Bird
http://thewoundedbird.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default
Added By: Feedage Forager Feedage Grade B rated
Language: English
Tags:
bowling green  countries  country  executive order  executive  new  order  people  president  trump  united states  united 
Rate this Feed
Rate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feed
Rate this feed 1 starRate this feed 2 starRate this feed 3 starRate this feed 4 starRate this feed 5 star

Comments (0)

Feed Details and Statistics Feed Statistics
Preview: Wounded Bird

WOUNDED BIRD



Faith is not certainty so much as it is acting-as-if in great hope.



Updated: 2017-11-12T09:05:15.479-06:00

 



VENGEANCE AS POLITICS

2017-10-13T15:01:41.023-05:00

From Diana Butler Bass on Facebook:
Dear Friends,

It is important that we remember the actions of these days and learn.


This is what it looks like when angry white people use a "democratic" process to wipe the memory and achievement of an honorable and successful black man from history. The drive to do away with him is so powerful that the "base" is willing to sacrifice their own to a life of no access to health care and potentially destroy the entire planet.

This is what it looks like when vengeance is the primary purpose of politics.

Do not forget these days. Because they are, for many, the opportunity to see what they never saw. The evil of the days can serve to awaken. Even after "he" is no longer president. Because until we deal with the depth of race and hierarchies and violence, this will continue.

Today, take a moment and be grateful for those who see clearly, who work with heart and passion for renewed practices of inclusion and true democracy in this, our national home.

I invite you to name some of those people here. Those who embody joy and justice in the midst of all of this.

Yours, Diana
Bass speaks truth with eloquence. The first names that come to mind are Desmond Tutu, Malala Yousafzai, Barack Obama, and Michelle Obama. The inclusion of "joy" makes it more difficult to think of others, but the word belongs. Gratitude is quite often difficult for me, but Bass is right to include the word "grateful" in her letter.



TRUMP'S PHONY PRAISE OF THE MILITARY

2017-08-24T13:28:07.560-05:00

Don't believe Trump's bullshit praise of men and women who serve in the military. Trump showed his disrespect for members of the military who have put their lives on the line to serve their country back in June when he blocked the the VoteVets.org group on Twitter. For the small-minded president to attempt to silence a progressive veterans group to preserve his fragile ego shows once again his complete lack of principles and moral core.


Trump's policy-by-tweet banning transgender people from serving in the military, which surprised even the Pentagon, is one more example of his disdain. What are the tens of thousands of transgender members now faithfully serving to think? What will happen to them?


From Trump's speech on the way forward in Afghanistan.

Trump: The soldier understands what we as a nation too often forget, that a wound inflicted upon a single member of our community is a wound inflicted upon us all.

(Especially when the wound is inflicted by the president)

Trump: When we open our hearts to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice, no place for bigotry and no tolerance for hate.

(Except for transgender people)

Trump: Our actions, and in months to come, all of them will honor the sacrifice of every fallen hero, every family who lost a loved one, and every wounded warrior who shed their blood in defense of our great nation. 

(Except for Capt. Humayan Khan and his family and wounded warriors in VoteVets)

Trump: We will push onward to victory with power in our hearts, courage in our souls, and everlasting pride in each and every one of you. 

(Who do you mean "we", Mr President?)

I could go on and on about Trump's nothing speech, delivered in prime TV time, but I won't. I simply want to make my point about his lack of respect for those who serve or who have served in the military.

As far as I can tell, the purpose of the speech was to distract from the fallout from Trump's words about the "very fine people" in the neo-Nazi, white supremacist march in Charlottesville, Mueller's Russian investigation, and various other "challenges" that the president faces.



ABOUT CONFEDERATE MONUMENTS - ROBERT E LEE IN HIS OWN WORDS

2017-08-22T13:46:04.059-05:00

(image)
Robert E Lee statue removed in New Orleans
In the midst of protests and controversies about taking down Confederate statues and monuments, seemingly enlightened people state that we judge Robert E Lee too harshly, that he was a complex man who is considered by many to be a person of honor and rectitude.  That may well be, but he led an army of rebellion against the United States to preserve an institution that he himself labeled a moral & political evil.

In this enlightened age, there are few I believe, but what will acknowledge, that slavery as an institution, is a moral & political evil in any Country. It is useless to expatiate on its disadvantages.I think it however a greater evil to the white man than to the black race, & while my feelings are strongly enlisted in behalf of the latter, my sympathies are more strong for the former. The blacks are immeasurably better off here than in Africa, morally, socially & physically. The painful discipline they are undergoing, is necessary for their instruction as a race, & I hope will prepare & lead them to better things. How long their subjugation may be necessary is known & ordered by a wise Merciful Providence. Their emancipation will sooner result from the mild & melting influence of Christianity, than the storms & tempests of fiery Controversy.

Robert E Lee's letter to his wife.

How unfortunate that Lee didn't follow his better instincts and side with those who opposed slavery.

Further, after the war ended, Lee expressed his opposition to Confederate monuments when he received letters asking his support for erecting a statue of Stonewall Jackson:

As regards the erection of such a monument as is contemplated, my conviction is, that, however grateful it would be to the feelings of the South, the attempt, in the present condition of the country, would have the effect of retarding instead of accelerating its accomplishment, and of continuing if not adding to the difficulties under which the Southern people labor.

Yes, Lee was a complex man, but, according to the general himself, the country would be a far better place without Confederate monuments.

Picture from Wikipedia.



"FAWLTY TOWERS"

2017-08-06T20:13:47.273-05:00

Since I'm trying to simplify and clear out some of my stuff, I went against my rules when I bought the DVD of the two seasons of Fawlty Towers. I have the video, but what good is it without a video player? What can I say? I missed the gang at FT, which I think is the funniest TV series ever. FT never disappoints and always rewards with belly laughs and "I'd better take a pee break" moments.

Somehow, I thought there were more than two seasons, but I was mistaken. I love Monty Python, but it's more intellectual than FT, and, apparently, farce and pratfall humor strikes my funny bone the hardest.

I may have a bit of Basil in me. My filters control my Basil most of the time, but sometimes he slips out. I can think of several moments when the filters failed me. He is such a snob that he deserves everything he gets, but, in the end, I feel for him anyway.

The DVD includes interviews with the writers, actors, and director of the series. The character of Basil is based on a the owner of a hotel where the cast stayed during the filming of Monty Python.



"SUNSET SONG" - THE MOVIE

2017-08-02T14:22:13.887-05:00

Last week I watched "Sunset Song", one of the saddest movies I've seen recently. Directed by Terence Davies, the film is set in the period just before and during WWI on a farm in northeast Scotland. Chris Guthrie, a bright young girl's whose dreams of going to teachers college are shattered when, after her mother bears numerous children, she commits suicide and kills her two youngest twin boys when she discovers she's pregnant again.

When Chris is left with her father, a brutal man, and her older brother, Will, after relatives take the younger children to live with them, she gives up her dream of teachers college to care for the household. For minor infractions, John, the father, takes the horsewhip to Will, and Will finally saves enough money to leave the farm and marry. Chris is left alone with her father.

The mood is dark and somber throughout the movie, except for a brief interlude of happiness after John dies of a stroke, and Chris marries Ewan, an amiable young man who lives nearby. Ewan reluctantly volunteers for the Scots Guards after war is declared and goes off to training. When he comes home on leave before being shipped to fight in France, he's drunk and brutal with Chris in the sight of their young son. Chris does not understand what's happening with Ewan, but she stands up to him when he shows sings of becoming violent, like her father.

When Ewan turns brutal, which we learn later is from stress about going into the fight in which thousands upon thousands have already died, I thought, "Oh! I've seen this movie before," and I debated whether to continue watching a replay of Chris living with another violent man. I decided to go ahead, and the dark mood continued, till weak hope is offered toward the end of the film by Chris' oneness with the land.

The stunning cinematography, which redeems somewhat the sadness of the movie, is by Michael McDonough. Northeast Scotland is gorgeous, and McDonough takes full advantage as he moves the camera slowly and lingeringly on the beautiful scenes. Indoor scenes are poorly lighted, as were the farmhouses at the time, and the camera again moves slowly. The light and shade in certain scenes resembles lovely paintings, and I was grateful again for the lingering camera.

The soundtrack by Gast Waltzing is very much in tune with the sadness of the movie and deserves credit.

I was going to post the video of the trailer for the film, but I think it gives away too much. It's on YouTube if you'd like to see it.



MAN-CHILD PRESIDENT TRUMP LEAVES DESTRUCTION IN HIS WAKE

2017-05-29T12:37:55.628-05:00


In just a few days, our jackass president destroyed decades-old relationships with our former friends in Europe. The man-child who promised to make America great again rides in a cart, as other world leaders walk, even as he should be pulling a cart. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is now the de facto leader of the free world, made it plain that Europe can no longer trust the US for cooperation and support. If European intelligence agencies obtain information about a terrorist attack in this country, will they share with us? What if they fear compromising agents in the field? Who could blame them if they didn't?

Even Trump's generals, whom I quite mistakenly believed might be the semi-sane people in the chaotic Trump maladministration, defend White House connections with Putin's Russia. In a world turned upside down, our allies now seem to be Russia and other countries run by strong men, and we, the people, have no say as a supine GOP Congress allows Trump and his minions to turn the United States into a completely different country in four short months.

Republicans in Congress savor their return to power and the opportunity to throw people off health insurance to give tax cuts to the rich. Thus far, they've paid little to no attention to the results of Trump's destructive foreign policies (if you can call them that) and his disastrous travels around the world. When history tells the story of these times, the supine GOP Congress will be no less complicit than Trump and his minions in the tragic takeover of the country.



THE PSALMS - PSALM 70

2017-03-16T16:42:41.736-05:00

The psalms in the bible are older than a number of the various leaders of of the Jewish people to whom they are attributed, but, because the leaders prayed the psalms, their names, especially King David's, are linked to individual psalms. The psalms are true prayers of the people (and the leaders) in Judaism and Christianity.

Reading the psalms often gives me great comfort.  The words seem to have life and enter in and give me strength and encouragement on many a day.

Psalm 70 is one of the psalms assigned for today in the Lectionary.
Be pleased, O God, to deliver me;
O Lord, make haste to help me.
Let those who seek my life be ashamed
and altogether dismayed;
let those who take pleasure in my misfortune
draw back and be disgraced.
Let those who say to me "Aha!" and gloat over me turn back,
because they are ashamed.

Let all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you;
let those who love your salvation say for ever,
"Great is the Lord!"
But as for me, I am poor and needy;
come to me speedily, O God.
You are my helper and my deliverer;
O Lord, do not tarry.
Image from Wikipedia.



IS TRUMP'S STATE DEPARTMENT IRRELEVANT?

2017-03-12T12:04:25.661-05:00

One week after Trump's inauguration, his administration told four top level career State Department managers that their services were no longer needed.  While it's true most presidents appoint their own people to top posts, they usually retain experienced employees through the transition period.

Since Trump appointed Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State, and Tillerson spent his entire career in the oil business and has no government or diplomatic experience, you'd think both men would want seasoned employees around for a while as he learns the ropes.  You'd be wrong.

Also, several reports indicate that Tillerson is excluded from Trump's inner circle.
More than a month after he became America’s top diplomat, Rex Tillerson is like no other modern secretary of State: He’s largely invisible.
Trump's proposed budget includes a 37 per cent cut to the State Department budget.  Is the State Department and its secretary no longer relevant in TrumpAmerica?  Or will the department become a subsidiary of Trump, Inc., with Trump remaining as CEO, and Tillerson's position as...?



BESIDES POLITICS - MIDDLEMARCH AND GRANTCHESTER

2017-03-09T12:39:50.922-06:00

When I take breaks from watching, reading, and commenting on politics, I'm watching the Middlemarch TV series on Netflix.  The series is well done, with the quibble that the story seems compressed and speeded up, which I suppose is necessary in translating a long novel to a TV series. Thus, Dorothea Brooke leaps rather quickly and jarringly into admiration for Edward Casaubon and acceptance of his proposal.  I remember more description and preparation for her fall in George Eliot's brilliant novel.

The account of her soul-crushing wrestle with Casaubon's "masterpiece" and his inferior character that led to the suppression of her own character and intelligence and the waste of her life seemed endless in the book.  I'll probably reread the novel, when I finish watching the series.

Also, I'm reading the Grantchester series of mystery stories by James Runcie, upon which the Grantchester TV series is based.  I've just about finished the third book in the series, and I've no doubt spoiled the suspense of some of the future episodes of the TV series, but I thoroughly enjoy the books, so I will continue to read.

Much of the dialogue in the TV series seems to have been taken directly from the books, which is all to the good.  I can't help but picture the characters in the stories as the actors in the series.



AT THE MOVIES IN MY HOUSE

2017-02-26T12:35:00.506-06:00

Gosford Park, directed by Robert Altman ("Nashville", "Mash") and written by Julian Fellowes (Downton Abbey), includes a delightful all-star ensemble cast that includes the wonderful Maggie Smith.  The subject of the film could be described as a typical English country house murder mystery, except that it's not typical at all.  The story and dialogue move quickly, as is Altman's style, and calls for the viewer's close attention, so as not to miss the sharp wit and humorous asides in the conversations.  I've seen the film 3 times, and I want to see it again. I gave it the highest rating of 5 stars on Netflix.O Brother, Where Art Thou? is an early collaboration by Ethan and Joel Coen, the brothers who wrote and directed the movie and have gone on to further fame and fortune.  The film is a satire loosely based on  Homer's Odyssey and set in Mississippi during the Great Depression.  Three white convicts escape from a chain gang and pick up an African-American guitar player along the way.  Mayhem, suspense, and hilarity ensue, as the four try to keep ahead of the chase by members of law enforcement and citizen enforcement, including the KKK.  In trying to save their necks, by accident, the group becomes a famous radio band called The Soggy Bottom Boys. T Bone Burnett worked with the Coen brothers on the superb sound track as the movie was being written.  The music in the film consists mainly of American southern folk music, and the sound track won the Album of the Year Grammy award.  I rated this one 5 stars, too.As for My Dinner With André, if you enjoy dinner with a companion who is a monologist, who tells tales that make one wonder if any of them really happened, then you may enjoy the movie more than I did.  I thought, "Good heavens!  When will André allow Wally to get in a word or two, except, "Really?"The two actors, André Gregory and Wallace Shawn, who play themselves, have a certain charm, but a dinner companion would have to be a lot more engaging than André, for me to have patience with a monologue.  I gave this one 3 stars.Last, but most certainly not least, is the delightful Gigi. The list of talented people who worked in the film is amazing.  Vincent Minelli directed the movie.  The screenplay was written by Alan Jay Lerner, who also wrote the song lyrics.   Frederick Loewe composed the music. which was arranged and conducted by André Previn.The story is loosely based on a novella of the same name by the French writer, Colette, and is one of the few books I've read in the original French.  The movie is a charming romantic musical comedy set in turn-of-the century Paris.  The women in the family are brought up to be courtesans, and they don't marry.  As Aunt Alicia, who gives Gigi lessons for her future role, says, "Marriage is not forbidden to us, but instead of getting married at once, it sometimes happens we get married at last."The cast is listed below.Leslie Caron as Gilberte ("Gigi")Maurice Chevalier as Honoré LachailleLouis Jourdan as Gaston LachailleHermione Gingold as Madame AlvarezEva Gabor as Liane d'ExelmansIsabel Jeans as Aunt AliciaCostumes were designed by Cecil Beaton, and the cinematographer was Joseph Ruttenberg.  The scenes of Paris are gorgeously idealized, and they are a feast for the eye.  The movie won nine academy awards, including Best Picture.  5 stars for Gigi.In the past, I thought Louis Jordan was dreamily good-looking, but my taste changed over the years. It's not that Jourdan is not good-looking, but he's no longer my dream man.I remember with fondness Hermione Gingold's regular appearances on The Tonight Show with Jack Paar. Though Paar was sometimes an ass, his guests were often brillia[...]



SENATOR BILL CASSIDY'S TOWN MEETING, THIBODAUX, LA

2017-05-06T16:06:22.485-05:00

Oooh, my back!  (I have spinal stenosis.)Through a heroic effort, I made it into the meeting and found a front row seat. Bill Cassidy arrived on time, and talked and talked, yada, yada, yada, running out the time of a one hour meeting. Here are my notes as I wrote them as I sat and listened.President O'Trump (He really said that) will spend 1 trillion on infrastructureTrump will bring back energy jobsTrump will bring back manufacturing jobsThe Dakota pipeline is good and will create many jobs in the USHe's talking too much. Get to the questionsCassidy talks too damned muchRunning out the clock, blah, blah, blahI sat patiently for a good while and was tired of wasting my time, so I started waving my hand. Cassidy paid no attention, so I shouted out, "Senator, you're talking too much. Listen to the people. Also, I have a question."He didn't get to me, and people were pointing to me and telling him to answer my question. He finally turned to me, and I asked:"Will you guarantee that your health care plan or whatever Republican health care plan you sign will cover everyone who is covered by Obamacare?   You are a doctor, and you took an oath to do no harm."He answered something like nearly everyone. I said, "That's no guarantee."Then he said, "What if people don't want coverage?"I said, "That's not what I mean, and you know it."Cassidy never got to the written questions that were handed in, so I'm glad I shouted out and didn't wait. He left promptly after an hour with a number of people still waiting to ask questions.Among the few questions and comments that time permitted, one man spoke of how Medicaid expansion helps hospitals that had to take losses in the emergency room before the program was implemented.In answer to a question that I could not hear, Cassidy said, among other things, that Jeff Sessions is an honorable man.  [Edit:] The question was from a woman wanted to know if Trump was Putin's puppet.  Jeff Sessions served on a Trump campaign committee, and, as Attorney General, prosecutors will be reporting to him during the inquiries looking into contacts between the campaign and Russia. Honorable or not, many think Sessions should recuse himself from inquiries into the campaign in which he had a role.Another asked about an independent investigation of Trump's Russian connections. Cassidy said he's very concerned about Russia, but he did not state he would support an independent, bipartisan investigation.Then, a woman asked about Trump's appointment of Pruitt as administrator of the EPA, who is on record as wanting to destroy the EPA. Cassidy said the EPA will not be destroyed.The crowd was not a rowdy bunch, but they were clearly annoyed by Cassidy hogging the time to speak.  I'm not good at crowd counting, but I'd guess there were a couple of hundred people sitting and standing. The people at the meeting appeared to be local people or from places nearby, and they asked intelligent and thoughtful questions. I doubt anyone in the crowd was bused in.I was briefly interviewed by the local paper, the Comet Courier, Fox 8, the New Orleans local station, and The Nation magazine.Update: Here's the link to my minute of fame with Bill Cassidy from Fox 8 news in New Orleans.[...]



ABOUT THE RUSSIAN CONNECTIONS AND MICHAEL FLYNN

2017-02-15T15:55:51.903-06:00

Just six days into his presidency, Donald Trump was informed his national security adviser had misled his vice president about contacts with Russia. Trump kept his No. 2 in the dark and waited nearly three weeks before ousting the aide, Michael Flynn, citing a slow but steady erosion of trust, White House officials said.Flynn was interviewed by the FBI about his telephone conversations with Russia's ambassador to the U.S., a sign his ties to Russia had caught the attention of law enforcement officials.Though the WH had known about Flynn's discussions with the Russians since January 26, when they were informed by acting-AG Sally Yates and another official that he was vulnerable to blackmail, no one bothered to inform Pence.  Yet he was sent out to defend Flynn publicly in a TV interview and declare the conversations about sanctions had not happened. Pence, who had vouched for Flynn in a televised interview, is said to have been angry and deeply frustrated.How many ways to say out of the loop?  Team Trump humiliated Pence, and now he is angry.  Still, I expect he's not angry enough to resign his potted plant position in the Trump maladministration, because he is the gentleman-in-waiting should something go wrong.According to the "retelling" from the White House, Flynn had done nothing illegal, but his downfall came because he lied to WH officials. Why was the erosion of trust in Flynn "slow and steady"?  Trump values loyalty above all.  It seems not to matter if his close advisers do not know what the hell they are doing or whether they tell the truth.  Why would truth matter when the boss lies repeatedly? Thus, loyalty trumps everything else, even if the result is chaos and certain staff members are thrown under the bus.What about Kellyanne Conway?  What did she know, and when did she know it?  Conway is the most visible of Trump's loyal supporters defending him on TV.  Is she out of the loop, too?  A couple of hours before the information about Flynn's "resignation", she said the security adviser had Trump's "full confidence".If you'd like to walk through the looking glass with Matt Lauer and his interview with Kellyanne Conway this morning, you may or may not find the answer to the question about whether she was out of the loop.I confess that I was dizzy, rather than enlightened by the walk, but that's just me.Here's the video of the interview. Conway's ability to remain upright through this long spin is amazing. width="420" height="236" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/57y5cOOmX64" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>[...]



ABOUT THE RUSSIAN CONNECTIONS

2017-02-13T12:16:43.281-06:00

What did Donald Trump know, and when did he know about Mike Flynn's conversations with the Russian ambassador?What did Mike Pence know, and when did he know it?When will the investigations of the Russian connections begin? Congress? Congress?When will Mike Flynn be fired or step down? Will Flynn go quietly? Was he following orders? Whose orders?That's not to mention Steve Bannon, a white supremacist, conspiracy theorist, and general menace who should be nowhere near the White House. Bannon also has Russian connections.“Steve Bannon, who is the leader of alt-right remember, he runs the alt-right media arm, which is the white supremacist, neo-Nazi arm of the conservative movement,” [Malcolm] Nance said. “He is a believer in what is called Duginism. There’s a guy, Alexander Dugin … He is a Russian that is sort of the Rasputin of the anti-democratic movement in eastern Europe that hates the liberal elite.”The analyst believes Bannon is setting the strategy for the White House. He told host Joy Reid that Bannon was ultimately attempting to push for Eurasianism, which would “align the United States and Russia together in a Christian war against Islam.”Nance, who comments frequently on MSNBC, is "a retired United States Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer in naval cryptology and author, scholar and media commentator on international terrorism, intelligence, insurgency and torture." (Wikipedia)And what about Rex Tillerson, former CEO of Exxon Mobile, now Secretary of State, and his previous lobbying against Russian oil sanctions, which he claims was not lobbying?“I have never lobbied against sanctions,” Tillerson said. “To my knowledge, Exxon never directly lobbied against sanctions.”This seems hard to believe. Indeed, after the second line, Sen. Bob Corker, the Republican chair of the committee, interjected: "I think you called me at the time [Russia sanctions were being debated]," he said. The public record backs him up: There is abundant and clear evidence that Exxon did lobby on sanctions under Tillerson’s leadership.....“In your mind, calling a United States senator to express your belief that sanctions are not effective is not lobbying,”[Sen. Chris] Murphy said. “In my view, that is a distinction without a difference.”If the Pandora's box of Russian connections between Trump's cabinet and staff is ever opened, much will be revealed. [...]



DEAR PRESIDENT TRUMP

2017-02-09T13:48:19.401-06:00

Dear President Trump,

I hope you have a Big League Valentine's Day.  Maybe the day when we celebrate love will inspire you to move away from bullying people and businesses.  You said you would be president for all the people in America, but you have not keep your word.  You incite fear and hatred and pit one group against another in a way that causes greater division in the country.

Keep in mind that Nordstorm is an American company that provides 85,000 jobs in the United States.  How does attacking an American business because they dropped your daughter's clothing line promote job creation?  I thought you and Ivanka were out of the businesses, so why do you care?  Is there a conflict of interest here?

Also, perhaps you might consider the duties and responsibilities of your position in the Oval Office a priority over tweets.  When you tweet, remember facts always trump "alternate facts", because, if you tell the truth, you have to remember only the one thing, while "alternate facts" are all over the place and hard to keep straight in your mind.

Note that I did not address you as the so-called president, even though you lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million.  You are the real president, just as James Robart is a real judge.  However the Ninth Circuit Court judges rule in the executive order travel ban, they will be real judges, too.

Cheers,

June Butler

Note: I will send the home-made valentine to Trump via snail mail.



WHAT FRESH HELL IS THIS?

2017-02-08T15:23:26.299-06:00

The New Yorker:
Fom 2003 to 2005, Gina Haspel was a senior official overseeing a top-secret C.I.A. program that subjected dozens of suspected terrorists to savage interrogations, which included depriving them of sleep, squeezing them into coffins, and forcing water down their throats. In 2002, Haspel was among the C.I.A. officers present at the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, an Al Qaeda suspect who was tortured so brutally that at one point he appeared to be dead.

On Thursday, the Trump Administration announced that Haspel would become the C.I.A.’s new deputy director.

It appears that the debate about torture in the President’s mind, if there ever was one, is over."
Jesus! If a country considers itself to be civilized, then torture is not to be tolerated. How did we get into the position once again in which we argue whether or not torture is the way to go? Yes, I know, Bannon/Trump.  Note: Waterboarding is torture.

Will Jefferson Beauregard Sessions stand up to the Bannon/Trump maladministration and say no to the use of torture if he is confirmed as Attorney General? My guess is he will not. He'll be another lackey like Alberto Gonzales who refused to oppose the Cheney/Bush maladministration's torture plan.

Thus far, only the courts have succeeded in putting the brakes on Trump's governance by chaos with executive orders such as the travel ban on people from several majority Muslim countries, and only temporarily.

The Justice Department appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court for a stay to Seattle Federal Judge James Robarts' ruling to halt the implementation of Trump's travel ban.
The Ninth Circuit scheduled the oral argument in the case for Tuesday at 3 p.m. Pacific time. It is to take place by telephone, and the court said it would be live-streamed on its website. Holding an oral argument by telephone in a major case is unusual.

The case will be heard by Judge William C. Canby Jr., appointed by President Jimmy Carter; Judge Michelle T. Friedland, appointed by President Barack Obama; and Judge Richard R. Clifton, appointed by President George W. Bush.
We can but hope that Judge Canby upholds the stay.  (Judge Canby is a real judge, along with Judge Robart, despite Trump's disparaging comment calling Robart a so-called judge.)  However Canby rules, the case will very likely end up with an appeal to the Supreme Court.



GOVERNMENT BY UNCERTAINTY

2017-02-06T09:31:03.975-06:00

The New Orleans Advocate front paged two stories about consequences in Louisiana of Trump's capricious executive orders, a state he won by a large margin.When the gleaming new Veterans Affairs Medical Center on Canal Street opened its doors in November, officials boasted of an army of 2,500 doctors, nurses and support staff who would provide patients with cutting-edge medical care.But a federal hiring freeze instituted in the first days of President Donald Trump’s administration has cast a shadow over plans to fill 1,000 of those positions over the next year.While subsequent orders have loosened some restrictions on the VA — and on its newly opened hospitals in particular — questions persist about how the freeze will affect the wide range of services envisioned at the billion-dollar medical complex, more than 10 years in the making.Trump promised to be a friend to veterans, and, as his policies play out, we see that's not true. It seems hiring of doctors and nurses will continue as planned, but support staff positions will be approved facility by facility.  Even if the hospitals hire more than enough doctors and nurses, no hospital can function without necessary support staff. Did our incompetent president know this before he signed his executive order?  Who knows?  Act first; think later when unintended consequences follow.Also, in today's edition of the Advocate is the article on uncertainty at the Port of New Orleans about consequences of Trump's promise to repeal NAFTA.As far as global trade goes, "America First" may not necessarily mean "Louisiana First."....Reciting a familiar refrain, Trump last week called NAFTA "a catastrophe for our country." His argument is that bad trade deals have shifted American jobs overseas, hitting especially hard in the upper Midwest, where thousands of manufacturing jobs have vanished in recent decades.But if the result of Trump’s policy turn is ultimately a decline in global trade, Louisiana could wind up as collateral damage in the effort to shore up U.S. employment.Louisiana voted for Trump by 58 percent to 38 percent for Clinton, and this is the way he treats his friends.  Our representatives in Congress are all Republicans, except for Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA).  How quickly will our Congressmen (yes, all men) stand up to protect the Louisiana economy, which is already in dreadful shape because of the decline in oil and gas prices?  I'm not holding my breath.Renegotiating NAFTA, the 1994 agreement with Mexico and Canada, might be felt in Louisiana as well. Overall, trade among the three countries has climbed from $293 billion in 1993 to almost $800 billion last year. Mexico and China — another target of Trump’s vitriol on the campaign stump — are Louisiana’s top trade partners.Mexico accounted for nearly $5.9 billion worth of exports from Louisiana in 2015. A 20 percent tariff on Mexican imports — an idea floated by Trump's spokesman last month — could put a huge damper on that trade.Mexico is now the enemy because President Peña Nieto stated he will not pay for Trump's wall on the southern border between the two countries.  Trump is determined to take revenge on leaders of countries he perceives to be his "enemies", even if consequences will be harmful to the citizens of the United States. [...]



TAKE SMALL SATISFACTIONS WHERE YOU FIND THEM

2017-02-05T13:07:39.035-06:00

A White House adviser's commentary about a massacre in Kentucky that never happened has sparked seemingly endless snickering online, with jabs like "never remember" and "I survived the Bowling Green massacre."Kellyanne Conway mentioned the fictional massacre in an MSNBC interview Thursday as the reason for a temporary travel ban for Iraqis in 2011, saying it also proved why the Trump administration's ban was necessary. It thrust this college town back into the national spotlight, nearly three years after a sinkhole that swallowed several classic Corvettes at a museum in Bowling Green garnered worldwide attention.Mayor Bruce Wilkerson said he understands how a person can "misspeak", but what if the same person "misspeaks" over and over?  When do we stop understanding?  Conway "misspoke" again later the same interview when she said Trump's immigration ban of immigrants from several majority Muslim countries was similar to the plan President Obama put in place to slow the vetting of Iraqi refugees in 2011.  Two Iraqis were arrested and charged with trying to send weapons and money to Iraq and helping Al Queda attack Americans in Iraq.  The two were convicted and are now serving prison sentences.For Bowling Green radio personality Jelisa Chatman, Conway's remarks were like a gift from heaven as an on-the-air subject."You wake up in the morning and you think, 'What am I going to talk about today?'" she said. "And God is like, 'Here you go. You need something to talk about, how about this?"Heh heh.At Home Cafe Marketplace, the most popular pizza Friday was "the Bowling Green Massacre" pie. The specialty pizza with blackened chicken, mac' and cheese and jalapenos was on pace to set a one-day sales record at the Bowling Green restaurant, said owner Josh Poling.....All proceeds from the specialty pizza's sales will go to the Southern Poverty Law Center, he said.Bravo, Josh!  I give regularly to the SPLC, but I gave an extra and generous donation after the group quickly filed suit to temporarily halt Trump's travel ban from the seven countries.  The order barred entry even to US citizens with dual citizenship, permanent residents with green cards, and refugees who had already been rigorously vetted and cleared for entry into the US.Many thanks to the many attorneys at airports around the country who volunteer their services to assist people who are detained and interrogated."It's funny and we can laugh at it," said Barry Kaufkins, who teaches at Western Kentucky. "But I think a lot of the laughter is so we don't cry. A lot of people are really worried about some of the rhetoric, not to mention the behavior, from this administration."Indeed. We take our small satisfactions and humor where we find them to take a break from weeping and wailing over the damage the Trump maladministration has done at home and abroad in two short weeks. Spokespersons for Trump say the several court orders from federal judges around the country to stop implementation of the executive order will be appealed.  I'm no lawyer, but it seems to me Trump's tweet could be...um...prejudicial to his appeals, but what do I know?Donald J. Trump ‏@realDonaldTrump  7h7 hours agoMoreThe opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned![...]



ABOUT THE "BOWLING GREEN MASSACRE"

2017-02-03T13:13:19.512-06:00

On Chris Matthews' show last night, Kellyanne Conway cited the "Bowling Green Massacre" in Kentucky as a reason that Obama put a six month ban on the Iraqi refugee program as an "Obama did it, too" defense of Trump's executive order banning immigrants from seven majority Muslim countries.  Matthews did not follow up and ask Conway about her reference to the "Bowling Green Massacre" that "didn't get covered" during the interview.The "Bowling Green Massacre" never happened, and Matthews might have been able to clarify Conway's statement right then and there if he had stopped her and asked about the massacre, but he did not.  Thanks to Conway and Matthews, the massacre will live on as an alternative fact in certain fevered minds.  Conway later tweeted that she misspoke and meant to say "Bowling Green terrorists", but I'm certain her original reference will have a long life and will continue to be cited by Trump supporters.Also, Obama never put a six months ban on Iraqi refugees.Alex Wagner explains on CBS. allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="236" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/EUwlJsL9TYk" width="420">Reactions to the "Bowling Green Massacre" on Twitter are hilarious.  Below are two of my favorites:Natasha Rothwell ✔@natasharothwellSaddened and sickened by Frederick Douglass' silence surrounding the Bowling Green Massacre.11:48 PM - 2 Feb 2017Adam Schiff ✔@RepAdamSchiffWhere were you when #BowlingGreenMasacre didn't happen? I was in Stockholm, getting a Nobel Prize. It was awesome. https://twitter.com/CNN/status/827528325363019778 …9:44 AM - 3 Feb 2017[...]



DON'T COME, PLEASE

2017-02-02T10:39:46.057-06:00

Queen Elizabeth is uncomfortable with Trump's state visit to England.
It is the British government that invites heads of state on the queen’s behalf, but it is the queen who acts as personal hostess. In most cases, that involves lavish pomp and ceremony and a stay of several days at the queen’s official residence, Buckingham Palace.
I ask you, would you want Trump staying in your palace...er...house?  I would not want Trump to visit my humble abode.

Theresa May's invitation to Trump for a state visit to London was beyond stupid.  There are petitions against Trump with thousands of signatures, and there will be protests if he goes ahead with plans for the visit.  Trump will be a pariah in England and in many countries around the world.  My guess is Trump will not go.  He lusts for acclamation by crowds, but he fears protests.
President Donald Trump will not head to Milwaukee for a previously scheduled visit of a Harley-Davidson factory after the company decided it wasn’t comfortable hosting him amid planned protests, an administration official said Tuesday, January 31st.
....

Harley-Davidson issued a statement Tuesday night saying they “don’t have, nor did we have, a scheduled visit from the President this week at any of our facilities.”
Ha ha!  Who us?  Trump is not coming here.  H/T to Charles Pierce for the link,

Trump will not only be a pariah around the world, but he will be unwelcome in many places in the US, because protests will follow him wherever he goes, some large and some small.

I still miss Molly Ivins and long for her commentary on present day politics.  You can't make this stuff up.
“There are two kinds of humor,” she told People magazine. One was the kind “that makes us chuckle about our foibles and our shared humanity,” she said. “The other kind holds people up to public contempt and ridicule. That’s what I do.”
UPDATE: The number of signatures on the petition protesting Trump's visit is now over a million, and Parliament will take up the matter later this month.

UPDATE 2: We can but hope that if Trump's state visit to England takes place, he will not shake hands with the Queen as he did with Neil Gorsuch.

width="420" height="236" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/hwttrGDyVDs" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>



STAYING SANE BY REREADING "1984"

2017-01-31T16:23:17.107-06:00

From the Ministry of Truth:
WAR IS PEACE
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH
Yes, I'm rereading 1984.

Winston: He was a lonely ghost uttering a truth that nobody would ever hear. But so long as he uttered it, in some obscure way the continuity was not broken. It was not by making yourself heard but by staying sane that you carried on the human heritage.

If you're thinking, "She must be crazy," I don't blame you, but in some crazy way it makes sense to me.



OUR BRAVE SEN. JOHN NEELY KENNEDY

2017-01-31T13:54:26.670-06:00

Dozens of demonstrators converged on New Orleans City Hall on Monday for a second day of demonstrations against President Donald Trump's far-reaching executive order halting the admission of new refugees from war-torn Syria and suspending immigration from several other Muslim-majority countries.The rally, the second in two days, came as some local religious leaders, including Catholic Archbishop Gregory Aymond, expressed outrage at the president's directive, condemning it as antithetical to humanitarian and American principles.U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans, called the order "immoral," while City Councilman Jason Williams described it as "unconstitutional."     "President Trump's discriminatory travel ban will make our country less safe because it will further alienate us from Muslim allies in the fight against terrorism and extremism," Mayor Mitch Landrieu said in a statement."New Orleans will remain a welcoming city because we know that our diversity is a strength," he said. "We also know all too well what it feels like to seek shelter and refuge in a place that is not your home."I'm proud of the people in New Orleans who are out there on the barricades, and I'm grateful to the Democratic political leaders and to Archbishop Aymond for speaking out against the despicable executive order.And then our brave Sen. John Neely Kennedy (R-LA) weighs in:Sen. John Kennedy said the United States has the "right to control its border," adding that it would be "stupid to let people who want to hurt us into our country.""We are a nation of immigrants, but we are also a nation of laws," Kennedy said. "I support the following rule: If you want to come to America, you have to be rigorously vetted to make sure you are not a terrorist, regardless of your religion or country of origin." Perhaps Kennedy does not know the US already has the most rigorous vetting process for refugees in the entire world. Does the senator believe that translators and intelligence agents from countries in the Middle East who put their lives and the lives of their families at risk to support the members of our military stationed in those countries are "people who want to hurt us"?  Does Kennedy approve of putting our troops the Middle East at greater risk, because people in those countries will no longer be willing to help our military fight ISIS?  Does he approve of putting our country at greater risk by providing ISIS with an excellent recruiting tool to say, "Look! The United States hates all Muslims."Does Kennedy think citizens with dual citizenship in the US and another country should be barred from reentering the country if they travel outside our borders?  Does he think people who have green cards for permanent residence in the US should be barred?  Students from countries in the Middle East who went to their native countries for a visit?  So many questions, but no answers.Ever since Trump signed the executive order, I've been calling Kennedy's office, along with the office of Sen. Bill Cassidy to express my opinion, but I can't get through.  Either the line is busy, or I receive a message that the voice mailbox is full.  I spoke to a person in Rep. Garrett Graves office, but I could not get answers to my specific questions, only a vague statement that he supports the order, because he wants to keep us safe, which, of course, the executive order does not do. There's no point in writing my GOP members of Congress, because they use my letter as an excuse to respond [...]



TRUMP'S ABOMINABLE EXECUTIVE ORDER

2017-01-30T13:10:32.381-06:00

Military veterans were dumbfounded and furious when it became clear over the weekend that President Donald Trump’s executive order barring the admission into the United States of people from seven majority-Muslim countries keeps out interpreters who’d risked their lives helping U.S. forces in Iraq.“They better make a damn exception, because we are here because of them,” said Andrew Biggio, a former Marine sergeant who was deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. “Our lives, our families, we have everything to thank for our interpreters. We owe them, we owe them, we owe them.”Biggio, who voted for Trump, said he and other Marines he served with are waiting for a clarification from the White House. Many of them personally pushed for years to obtain visas for their interpreters and then raised funds to help them settle in.Andrew Biggio, why are you surprised at the executive order? Good for you that you're speaking up now about what you know is wrong and cruel. My only surprise is that the Bannon/Trump administration is moving so swiftly with a number of executive orders that are signed without the normal vetting process. It's understandable that a new president will want to change policies, but the ban on immigrants from seven countries with Muslim majorities, and the attempt by the administration to link Obama to the executive order is despicable.  Man up, and take responsibility for your own actions, Mr Bannon and President Trump.  Refugees coming to the US are already subject to the most rigorous vetting in the entire world.Veterans said that honoring the implicit promise made to those who risked their lives to help the United States has nothing to do with politics, and that they can’t believe it would be up for debate.“You will find military veterans unified in support of this; it’s not partisan,” said Brandon Friedman, a former Obama administration official who commanded a platoon during the invasion of Iraq. “This order demonstrates that we don’t have their backs. It’s totally un-American.”  Who is vetting the Bannon/Trump administration's executive orders?  Apparently, no one who knows anything about the process is included.Veteran officials who normally would have reviewed the order’s language to ensure smooth implementation and avoid potential litigation have been cut out of the typical process by the Trump administration — or simply overruled, current and former officials told FP [Foreign Policy].As one of my friends asked, is the administration trying to incite ISIS to attack the United States? The executive order is probably unconstitutional, and it will not make the people in the country safer.  It will increase the danger of a terrorist attack, and, worst of all, US members of the military serving in the Middle East will be put at risk.  To ask troops to put their lives on the line, even as the presidential order puts their lives at greater risk is abominable.President Donald Trump is getting blasted for reorganizing the National Security Council to oust the director of intelligence and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff [James Mattis] from always attending the Principals Committee -- and installing one of his top political advisers on the key panel.Trump's order makes his chief strategist, Stephen Bannon, a regular member of the Principals Committee. The committee is a Cabinet-level group of agencies that deal with national security that was established by President George H. W. [...]



DESPICABLE, CHAOTIC TRAGEDY - THANKS, TRUMP

2017-01-28T21:24:11.712-06:00

From the New York Times - despicable, chaotic tragedy.  Iraqis who put their lives and the lives of their families at risk to help the US are banned.  People from countries on the executive order list who have green cards are banned from reentering the US. This is our new president, only one week in office, and we are asked time after time to "give him a chance".  Not a chance of that for me.  Never in my wildest nightmares about a Trump presidency did I imagine such an ignorant, heartless dolt could do as much damage to our country and our international relationships in one week. President Trump’s executive order on immigration quickly reverberated through the United States and across the globe on Saturday, slamming the border shut for an Iranian scientist headed to a lab in Boston, an Iraqi who had worked as an interpreter for the United States Army, and a Syrian refugee family headed to a new life in Ohio, among countless others.....Mr. Trump’s order, enacted with the stroke of a pen on Friday afternoon, suspended entry of all refugees to the United States for 120 days, barred Syrian refugees indefinitely, and blocked entry into the United States for 90 days for citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.....Confusion turned to panic at airports around the world, as travelers found themselves unable to board flights bound for the United States. In Dubai and Istanbul, airport and immigration officials turned passengers away at boarding gates and, in at least one case, ejected a family from a flight they had boarded.Note: I have not previously used the picture of Trump at the head of the post, but it's time, or maybe way past time, as it so perfectly illustrates the message the president sends to the people of the country and to the world.  Of course, there is one exception, as even now the Trump maladministration is considering lifting sanctions on Russia, where his much beloved strong man and BFF, Vlad Putin, rules as despot.UPDATE: From Talking Points Memo.A federal judge in New York has issued an emergency order temporarily barring the U.S. from deporting people from nations subject to President Donald Trump's travel ban.U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly issued the order Saturday evening after lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union filed a court petition on behalf of people from seven predominantly Muslim nations who were detained at airports across the country as the ban took effect.Cheers broke out in a crowd of demonstrators outside a Brooklyn courthouse as the decision, effective nationwide, was announced.Thank you, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)! I will make a donation now. We need the organization desperately in these times. [...]



DESPICABLE AND DEPLORABLE

2017-01-28T21:25:04.698-06:00

President Donald Trump's administration has abruptly halted ads and outreach for Obamacare set to run during the final days of the 2017 open enrollment season, according to a report published Thursday by Politico.....The decision to halt outreach and ads came from the White House, according to the report. (My emphasis)Just six days before the window to sign up ends, vindictive Trump and/or his advisers put road blocks in the way of people who need health insurance.For Trump and crew, this is just one more petty exercise of power to take vengeance on whom?  Obama? Democrats?  People who didn't vote for him?  Protesters?  Anyone who prevents him from enjoying himself in his first days in the White House?  Sadly, it could mean the difference between life and death to people who need help, including Trump supporters. Another example of Trump's pettiness and vindictiveness is the order to the National Park Service to post photos of his inauguration that he liked, photos that didn't show areas on the Mall where there were no people.In a Saturday phone call, Trump personally ordered Reynolds to produce additional photographs of the previous day’s crowds on the Mall, according to three individuals who have knowledge of the conversation. The president believed that the photos might prove that the media had lied in reporting that attendance had been no better than average.Trump was especially angered by pictures that showed the crowd at President Obama's inauguration in 2009 side by side with his inauguration crowd.There are more, so many more, examples of the president's child-like, bullying behavior than I have time to note, but he's had a busy week and done much harm and no good for the people of the country.Trump's soured the relationship between the US and Mexico, our friend, neighbor, and third largest trading partner.He's endangered our troops deployed in the Middle East by stating he believes torture works.He's endangered our troops in Iraq who are deployed to advise the Iraqi military by threatening to take the oil from their country.He's stated he will open a major investigation into massive voter fraud in the recent election, for which there is no evidence.  Trump believes three to five million "illegals", as he calls them, may have voted in the election and caused him to lose the popular vote. He's put gag orders on federal agencies, forbidding the employees from speaking to members of Congress.And Trump's been in office for only a week.  God help the United States of America!UPDATE: The halt to outreach publicity in the final days of open enrollment in the ACA health insurance program has been reversed by the Trump maladministration.HHS officials on Friday said automatic phone calls and other online and digital outreach — including Twitter messages and emails — would continue through the Jan. 31 deadline for obtaining coverage.[...]



1984, ALTERNATIVE FACTS, THE NEW NEWSPEAK

2017-01-27T15:58:28.576-06:00

After incorrect or unprovable statements made by Republican President Donald Trump and some White House aides, one truth is undeniable: Sales of George Orwell's 1984 are soaring.
....

Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway coined an instant catchphrase Sunday when she called his claims about crowd size "alternative facts," bringing comparisons on social media to "1984".
Heh heh. We're back to Newspeak with another name, and Orwell's book is as relevant today as it ever was.

"Quotes from Orwell's 1984 :
“For, after all, how do we know that two and two make four? Or that the force of gravity works? Or that the past is unchangeable? If both the past and the external world exist only in the mind, and if the mind itself is controllable – what then?”
....

"Reality exists in the human mind and nowhere else."
And now, for Donald Trump, reality exists only in his own mind and in the minds of his followers who choose to believe his reality.

UPDATE: Adam Gopnik's essay in The New Yorker on Orwell's 1984 is excellent.
"1984” seemed...too brutal, too atavistic, too limited in its imagination of the relation between authoritarian state and helpless citizens.

An unbidden apology rises to the lips, as Orwell’s book duly climbs high in the Amazon rankings: it was far better and smarter than good times past allowed us to think. What it took, of course, to change this view was the Presidency of Donald Trump. Because the single most striking thing about his matchlessly strange first week is how primitive, atavistic, and uncomplicatedly brutal Trump’s brand of authoritarianism is turning out to be. We have to go back to “1984” because, in effect, we have to go back to 1948 to get the flavor.
....

Meanwhile, the Republicans in Congress, thoroughly intimidated, fear shining from one eye and cupidity from the other, will exploit the “question” of voter fraud to pursue policies of actually suppressing minority voters.